Interactions Between Family and School Environments: Evidence on Dynamic Complementarities?
This paper explores whether conditions during early childhood affect the productivity of later human capital investments. We use Romanian administrative data to ask if the benefit of access to better schools is larger for children who experienced better family environments because their parents had access to abortion. We combine regression discontinuity and differences-in-differences designs to estimate impacts on a high-stakes school-leaving exam. Although we find that access to abortion and access to better schools each have positive impacts, we do not find evidence of significant interactions between these shocks. While these results suggest the absence of dynamic complementarities in human capital formation, survey data suggest that they may also reflect behavioral responses by students and parents.
For useful feedback we are thankful to Douglas Almond, Miikka Rokkanen, and seminar participants at Calgary, the NBER, the New York Fed, NYU, Rensselaer, Santa Barbara, Tel-Aviv, UI Chicago, and UT Austin. For financial support, we are grateful to the National Science Foundation (SES 0819776), and to Columbia’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) and Program for Economic Research (PER). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.